Hip-hop pioneer DJ Mark the 45 King, whose iconic tracks have been sampled by some of the greatest in hip-hop royalty, has passed away. He was 62 years old.
The record producer’s manager confirmed rumors that had been floating around on Thursday that “he passed.” No additional information, including his cause of death, was made available.
DJ Premier of rap duo Gang Starr announced Thursday on Instagram that the Bronx-born producer died Thursday morning, just days after his 62nd birthday.
Being born Mark James in New Jersey, 45 King would go on to become a pioneer in hip hop and make his mark around the world.
James got his DJ name from his uncanny ability to extract beats from obscure 45 rpm singles. He could bring an unexpected twist to a song that this flavour would elevate to a new level. For example, “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”, he produced for Jay-Z, which featured a looped chorus from the 1977 original cast album of the Broadway musical “Annie”. Or the melodic hook, stay-on-your-mind hook on Eminem’s “Stan” lifted from the debut album of British singer Dido (or rather from the 1998 soundtrack of the movie “Sliding Doors”).
The 45 King is perhaps best known for his groundbreaking work in the art of sampling. His 1987 track “The 900 Number” became an iconic track in the hip-hop world and is widely recognized for its innovative use of a sample from Marva Whitney’s “Unwind Yourself.” This track not only laid the foundation for the golden age of hip-hop but also introduced a new era of creative sampling in music production.
Throughout his career, The 45 King collaborated with numerous artists and producers. He worked with legendary acts like Queen Latifah, Eminem, Jay-Z, and Gang Starr. His production skills and keen ear for samples influenced countless producers who followed in his footsteps.
James was also a member of the famous crew, the Flavor Unit, which included Chill Rob G, Lakim Shabazz, Apache and Queen Latifah. “The Equalizer” star Latifah, known as one of the biggest ladies in Hip-Hop, helped James get his big break in 1989 when she signed with Tommy Boy records and released “All Hail the Queen,” an album that featured extensive production work by James. Other Flavor Unit artists would later sign with Tommy Boy, with James contributing to their albums as well.
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Many artists, both young and old, started sending out their condolences and words to honor the contributions Mark has made over the years. One of those artists was Eminem. The 8-Mile star and rapper took to his…